Tonight in Atlantic City, the Dirrell brothers are back in action, headlining a 12 fight boxing show at the Trump Taj Mahal. Over the years, Andre and Anthony have spent time near the top of the Super Middleweight division, but they have yet to reach the lofty heights many “experts” predicted when turning pro in 2005.
The Flint, Michigan natives first made their names as spectacular amateurs who ran the national middleweight ranks from 2003 – 2005. After turning pro, they cruised through lower and mid level competition. Just when it looked like one would break through to the next level – something would get in the way of their progress.
Now with both fighters in their 30’s, many want to find out if the peak is to be known as fighters on the cusp or will one of them eventually get over the hump?
In all fairness, some of the toughest obstacles on the path to elite status were dealt with outside of the boxing ring. Anthony, the younger of the two brothers, needed to take a two-year hiatus from the sport to fight cancer. He eventually beat the horrible disease and then went on to briefly hold a portion of the Super Middleweight title.
Andre, the more popular of the two, received his first taste of national exposure in the 2009 Showtime Super Six tournament. In his second tournament fight, he scored the best win of his career over longtime contender Arthur Abraham.
Unfortunately the switch hitting boxer then known as “The Matrix” could not capitalize, or even stand to celebrate his victory. A vicious late Abraham blow after an obvious slip led to Dirrell being helped of the ring. Abraham was disqualified for his actions but there were long-term effects of the punch as it led to a lingering neurological issue. AA claimed that Dirrell was being an “ack-tor” but Andre would only box once over the next three years.
In recent times the brothers have rebooted their careers competing under the Premier Boxing Champions banner. Both have been fairly steady competitors since 2013.
Anthony went on to win the WBC version of the 168 pound title in 2014 when he decisioned longtime division gatekeeper Sakio Bika in Carson, California. The reign didn’t last long as Anthony lost his title in his first defense to Badau Jack in Chicago. This was a shocker as Jack was fresh off of a 1st round knockout loss to journeyman Derek Edwards.
Dirrell told the boxing media “I think the loss made me a better fighter because I know what it takes to get there. I am just looking for the next shot. When I get it, I’m going to capitalize and not let the title go.”
In the 31-year-old’s return bout, which was his most recent, he pitched a 10 round shutout to veteran Marco Antonio Rubio in Corpus Christie, Texas.
His April 29, 2016 assignment is Caleb Truax (26-2-2, 16 ko’s), a solid yet unspectacular fighter from Minnesota. Traux does not own a career defining victory, yet has only lost to world class opposition in Jermain Taylor and Danny Jacobs. He was stopped in the 12th by Jacobs, a fight that marked Traux only world title opportunity. A safe bet of sorts, but not one to be taken lightly.
At the weigh-in – Truax told the boxing media “I have to make the most of this opportunity. This is a huge fight for me. I can get another shot at a world title with a win.
“Dirrell is a good fighter. I’ve seen a lot of his fights and we’ve fought on the same card before. You have to respect that he is a former world champion.”
Anthony Dirrell finished up by saying “I know Truax has fought some good competition in Daniel Jacobs and Jermain Taylor. I have my hands full but I prepared to have my hand lifted in Victory.
“I’m going to stick to my game plan and try to get Truax out of there. Then I can start thinking about Badou Jack. I definitely want a rematch.”
As for Andre, he still says he feels young even though he is now 32-years-old. The 2004 Olympics Bronze medal winner firmly believes he belongs in the discussion with the top dogs.
Since his Super Six efforts against Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham, the bulk of his opposition have been uninspiring at best.
In May of 2015, Andre received his first world title shot and lost to England’s James DeGale by way of twelve round decision. Dirrell hit the deck twice in round 2 but did rebound to make it a close contest.
The upcoming fight against Australia’s Blake Caparello (22-1-1, 6 ko’s) will mark Andre first bout in nearly one calendar year. It is scheduled for 10 rounds. Caparello is best remembered for a 2014 thrashing he received at the hands of “Krusher” Sergei Kovalev. He did not make it out of the second round live on HBO in Atlantic City.
In the lead up to this fight, Blake said “It’s good to be back in Atlantic City. I took a lot from my fight against Sergey Kovalev. Being in the ring with him taught me a lot about ring composure. This is my Atlantic City redemption.
“Dirrell is a very difference fighter. Andre is very quick and slick. I can’t afford to make minor mistakes. I didn’t make the 20-hour flight for a loss. I was small for 175 pounds which made the move to 168 very comfortable.
Andre gives his take on the bout in this interview with Marc Abrams
Both fighters are listed in the neighborhood of 15-to-1 favorites by various Las Vegas book makers. I am not disputing those odds.
The question isn’t IF the Dirrell brothers will win tonight. It is more based on HOW they go about their business. They are splendid boxers with enough power to earn a respectable KO percentage. They need to show they are a cut above the middle men they are fighting on this evening.
So here we are again – the Dirrell brothers are on the cusp of big things. Tune in live on Spike TV, where a victory will put their names deep into the discussion for another crack at championship gold.
My question is – has this tandem already peaked or is the best work yet to come? You can tune into the Premier Boxing Champions / King Promotions event at 9PM.